Thomas' clients include former NFL All-Pro linebacker Jessie Armstead, who opened a Honda dealership in Hamilton Township, N.J., in 2009. Its single-tunnel, 145-foot conveyor automatic wash made money from the turn of the first brushes four years ago.
Thomas says 140,000 vehicles used the Hamilton Honda car wash the first year, rising to more than 230,000 last year. "It's kind of maxed out," he says.
For a Honda dealership Armstead is building in Grapevine, Texas, a Dallas suburb, the car wash will have dual tunnel conveyors that are 200 feet long, Thomas says. The facility is scheduled to open late this year or in 2019.
Ricart Automotive, in the Columbus, Ohio, suburb of Groveport, is looking to add volume to the single tunnel wash it opened five years ago to handle the 3,000 Ford, Mazda, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan and Mitsubishi retail vehicles on its six lots.
Dan Bryan, the dealership group's service operations director, says Ricart also details 800 to 1,000 used vehicles a month.
Offering service customers a free wash and the opportunity to buy or upgrade monthly wash packages has helped increase satisfaction, Bryan says.
"Everybody's looking at profitability within the dealership right now," he says. "If we can invest in the equipment to keep those customers here, then it costs us less to get them to buy their next car."